Café culture

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Architect Ian Athfield died on 16 January this year. In the New Zealand Listener (dated the day before), Diana Wichtel presented an engaging interview, first published in the Listener in 2012, in which Ath “talked about starting his landmark ‘act of defiance’ in 1965, and finally wanting to finish the place.” Interview: Architect Ian Athfield

My image shows an advertisement for Havana Coffee. The green Telecom Building peeping in at the top corner of the image, was, according to one NCEA student, “built in a boom period when New Zealanders had big ideas and wanted their cities to look like international ones …”

Single shot

single shot (20 June 2014)

single shot (20 June 2014)

Whatever reservations one might have about the Nestlé Nespresso concept − questions of unit cost, freshness, pre-packaging, waste, recycling − the boutique is certainly eye-catching. But there was something special about the quality of the light when I passed, a few days ago, that made me grab my camera and snaffle this surreal shot.

Nespresso opened its first New Zealand boutique in Auckland (203 Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland) in August 2011. The second was launched in Wellington (215- 229 Lambton Quay) in November 2013.

By the way, Superette’s blog is quite enthusiastic about it.

Okay, maybe I’m curious enough to actually check out the products …


A new tradition seems to have taken root in the fertile ground of Wellington’s café culture — an increasing number of cafés have blackboard signs adorned with quotes and proverbs. (Maybe it has some connection with the phenomenal popularity of “quote sites” on the Internet.)

tradition (15 Feb 2011)

tradition (15 Feb 2011)

A couple of days ago, this blackboard appealed strongly enough to interrupt me as I hurried along Dixon Street. It was only later that I began to analyse the factors that had contributed to enrich my experience of that simple sign.

Years ago, the Dixon St. Deli was where I went to buy matzos so I could make a chocolate Passover cake (a miracle of eggs, matzah meal, ground almonds, dark chocolate and orange juice) to serve at Easter alongside a fruit- and marzipan-filled simnel cake (an old English tradition). 

The characteristics of the text and its background reminded me strongly of the paintings of Colin McCahon, who is regarded as “the outstanding figure in New Zealand visual art of the twentieth century … a great painter and a profound thinker.” (These words are quoted in material about McCahon on the website of Te Papa Tongarewa / Museum of New Zealand. And there are good images, there, of some of his paintings.)

Dixon St. Deli, now in it’s third generation, has been supplying Wellington with gourmet delights since 1930. And it’s been integral to my experience of the Wellington scene throughout my life.